“Once you start making the effort to ‘wake yourself up’ – that is, be more mindful in your activities – you suddenly start appreciating life a lot more.”
~Robert Biswas-Diener

A new technique one of the dog trainers I work with suggested using an old wooden cooking spoon, putting a dollop of peanut butter on it, freezing it, then using it like a lure as I’m training Eloise on “heel” walking.


She seems to love it. (Duh. Dog + peanut butter = guaranteed tail wags).


She’s not perfect – she still strays and zig zags on walks – but she’s definitely got a little more pep in her step when we do these training walks than she did before.


The previous method I’d utilized based on advice from the first trainer I worked with was to yank or “pop” her anytime she walked ahead of me. Then, tell her to sit, and wait till she either stops biting the leash or disobeying in some other manner. Ya, well, it’d be an understatement to say that didn’t go over well with Eloise. Nine times out of ten it seemed to serve only to incite her to further pull, growl, or try to run away. She seemed anxious and confused. And so did I.


Now, although she’s by no means walking like a “perfect” dog 100% of the time, she goes much further (much happier) walking well with the peanut butter stick (which, ironically is the carrot in this metaphor).


This peanut butter “carrot” versus the yank and wait “stick” isn’t the only training lesson with Eloise that I’ve learned is translatable to relationships. I’m also supposed to say “YES!” or “GOOD GIRL!” enthusiastically anytime she does anything good. Even if she’s pulling and jumping, but then stops and stands or sits, immediately I should positively reinforce her instead of continuing to verbally reprimand her.


Moreover, the corrections are really only supposed to be offered once. One “uh un” or “no,” then we get a change of scenery or a super brief (10 second) time out. I don’t stand there and berate her.


I have to speak clearly or else she gets confused, and if she then misbehaves it’s probably more my fault than her based on my miscommunication.


Say a command once, then give her time to process and act. (No, sit, sit, sit’s, for instance).


Don’t badger.


Keep it simple.


Be kind.


Be patient.


Challenge, and reward.


In essence, it’s all about letting her warmly know when she’s doing things right, not nagging her, not focusing on the bad, rewarding the good, being attention, communicating clearly, and making sure not to make her work all the time but to incorporate play, too.


Hmmm…seems like this would be good to do with any person, too!


*Photo from http://happyproject.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/pablo-q5a-1.jpg